“The success of the OTT has been a blessing for artists. It gives an equal chance to every character involved in a particular series.” – Amika Shail

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Meet singer-turned-actor Amika Shail who over the last couple of years has been steadily making a niche for herself in Bollywood. She’s been an integral part of Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi, Mirzapur 2, Gandii Baat 6 and Disney+Hotstar’s Chhatis Aur Maina. Besides this, Amika has done around five webseries after acting on television for a span of three years wherein she has been a part of shows like Balveer Returns, Divya Drishti and Udaan. Read on…

What has your journey in the entertainment world been like?
I would say that I had an amazing journey so far. I started singing at the age of 5. Since I am from Bengal and my mother is a singer, as a child, I was always inspired by her. When I turned 5, I started my training in classical singing. My mother was my first teacher. This is how my journey as a singer began.
I got into professional singing after I shifted to Mumbai post Graduation. But prior to that, I was part of a lot of reality shows. So Bombay was like a second home to me which I visited frequently to participate in singing reality shows like Sa re ga ma , Little Champs, Amul Star Voice of India, Bharat ki Shaan etc.
Once I shifted to Mumbai post my graduation, I took to singing as my career. It has been more than 7-8 years since I am into singing. I have sung for movies, I have sung for music albums, and I have released my own music albums as well. I have my YouTube channel which has like 80k+ subscribers.

So how did acting happen?
I was fully into singing and then acting happened accidentally. Now it has been two years that I am into acting. The acting journey began with a musical show. They needed a singer-actor for that show and they approached me. I went for an audition but did not get selected then. It was also because I was not ready as an actor at that time. But yes, this was my first baby step into the world of acting and then I groomed myself for it.
Although I did not get selected for that; it opened the doors to the world of acting for me. My first show as an actor was ‘Udaan’ on Colors TV. I never auditioned for this show in specific. I auditioned for the production house though and months later, I was selected for this show basis on the previous audition.
Since then, there has never been a halt and I have been a part of a lot of TV shows. My last show on TV was Vayu Pari on Sab TV. The same goes for web series. They just came to me one after the other and then I was also lucky enough to be a part of Laxmmi along with Akshay Kumar and Kiara Advani. I have also been a part of a lot of ad films. With the rise of the OTT platforms in the country, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a number of web series like Mirzapur 2, Mask Man, Gandi Baat 5, Chattis aur Maina on Disney + Hotstar, and many more. Also, the kind of work that I have been part of is really amazing and the acting journey has been fabulous till now.

You’re not from the industry nor do you have any roots in the film world, were there any challenges you faced while entering the industry?
I come from a family which has never been a part of the entertainment industry. I am the first in my family to step out and join the film industry. I had to struggle to make my place here. Indeed, it is very difficult to survive in a city like Mumbai, especially if you do not have financial backing. I come from a middle-class family and shifting to Mumbai was a sudden decision. So once I reached Mumbai it was like a struggle for survival. I took up a job as a music teacher in a school and juggled between singing auditions and my job. I have been fortunate to be a part of some really good projects and I am enjoying this process and the entire journey to date. I have learned to take both success and failure in an equal spirit. I have faced days where I did not have any work at hand. But I have only emerged stronger out of it. But I believe once I have marked a place for myself then it is purely my hard work that has helped me get good work. I believe that there are no shortcuts to success and I was always prepared for working hard.

Since you know how it feels to be an outsider in the industry, do you think this entire debate on “nepotism” or “insiders versus outsiders” makes sense?
Nepotism has always been a part of the society that we live in. It’s not just in the entertainment industry that you find it. It is present everywhere. Like I said, I belong to a non-filmy background and had to struggle my way to success. I did not have support or backing from anybody in the industry. But yes, as I have mentioned I believe in working hard. So, I did exactly that and that way, I could create a space for myself. It was definitely not easy but now that I think about it, I feel it was definitely worth it. I credit my success to my hard work and not to any particular person.

Also, I feel the success of the OTT has been a blessing for artists. It gives an equal chance to every character involved in a particular show/series. You might play a very small role and still be noticed and applauded for. This is not possible in films or TV as the story revolves around the lead characters only, leaving very little space for other supporting actors.

Tell us about the special projects that you hold dear to your heart.
God has been really kind and I could be a part of some really great projects. My first film Laxxmi was with Akshay Kumar and my first OTT show was Mirzapur 2. Both of them were huge for a then fresher like me. Choosing one character could be really difficult. However, I would say that there is this upcoming project of mine – Rangbaaz Wanted, wherein I play the role of a female politician. That role is something very dear to me. It is a very dominating character and very similar to the kind of person I am. Another character that I loved shooting for is for this film called Dog. The movie is directed by Shailendra Singh and the shooting took place in Manali. We had to shoot in very low temperatures with glamorous clothes. I had a great and fun-filled time shooting both of these projects.

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